Books Where The Main.Charaxyers Story Is Only.Told Over Christmas Interview with James L Therrian, Author of "Dance of the Heart"

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Interview with James L Therrian, Author of "Dance of the Heart"

Interview by James L. Terrian

Author of Dance of the Heart

James Therrien (2007)

ISBN 9780615135007

Today, Reader View’s Tyler R. Ticheler is delighted to be joined by James Therrien, author of “Dance of the Heart”.

James Therrien was born in Michigan and spent most of his time in the rainy Northwest before following the sun to Maui, Santa Fe, New Mexico and California. An aspiring writer, James attended workshops with Lew Hunter in the renowned Screenwriting 434 class at UCLA. James currently lives in San Diego and writes and works with the University of California San Diego.

Tyler: Thank you, James, for joining me today. To start off, can you tell us a little bit about your new novel “Dance of the Heart”?

James: “Dance of the Heart” is a story of love and attraction. The main character Michael is a successful professional dancer who has a happy settled life, which suddenly changes after the death of his dance partner Margo. A stark contrast to her successor, Elizabeth Margot, who was a nasty bitter woman. Michael is mesmerized by Elizabeth and falls head over heels for her when he lays eyes on her. The problem is that Michael is a gay man in a long-term relationship with his boyfriend, David.

Tyler: James, are you a dancer yourself?

James: No I’m not a dancer, but enjoy ballet and performing arts.

Tyler: Where did you come up with the idea for “Heart of the Heart”?

James: This is an idea I came up with in a creative writing class I took a few years ago. I wanted to show that everyone is the same when it comes to the heart; No matter who we are or who we love, we all have similar challenges and choices in life.

Tyler: Of course, the book is not just about dance in its literal sense, but about love and how love can change. I was particularly surprised that the main character, Michael, is gay and has a boyfriend, David, but then starts falling in love with his female dance partner, Elizabeth. Do you think it is possible for a person to fall in love with both sexes?

James: Yes I do. Many of us have feelings for inappropriate people, whether it’s someone of the same sex, someone married, or someone we know that the people in our lives won’t accept, so we usually just keep our feelings hidden. As for Michael, the question is whether he has feelings for Elizabeth, can he change her for love?

Tyler: In the novel, Michael questions not only who he loves, but his own sexual identity and preferences. Do you think Michael is really gay or can a person’s sexual preferences change over time?

James: For some people a sexual identity is a choice. For example, some people live their entire lives as who they are not because they are afraid to declare themselves. Many people live double lives, but that’s a whole different conversation. Michael is gay, but attraction can make us all question what we want sometimes.

Tyler: One of the characters, Michael’s mother, Sally, says, “You can’t choose who you fall in love with, but you can choose what you do with it.” Is it correct to call the theme of the book? Why did you write the book to explore that statement?

James: “Dance of the Heart” explores the theme that sometimes love surprises us all. What we do with them is our choice. I also wanted to show that when it comes to matters of the heart, we are all one, no matter who we are or how we choose to define ourselves.

Tyler: How have readers responded to the novel so far, and specifically to its themes of love and sexuality?

James: I’ve had very positive feedback from readers I’ve spoken to. Michael is a gay man; However, “Dance of the Heart” is a story of love and attraction. One reader told me she thought it would be a good book for her teenage daughter to read at school as part of her diversity studies. I was happy to hear that because I purposefully wrote the story to appeal to all readers. It’s a funny and wholesome story and has reminders for everyone about the lessons we need to learn in life

“Dance of the Heart” twists a familiar trope in that the main character is gay, but thinks he might fall in love with a woman. I think many readers can relate to Michael’s plight because we all do stupid things when we fall in love.

Tyler: James, what can we expect from your pen?

James: My next book, which I’m currently working on, is an instructional book on how to self-publish a book. I am working on a book on what Americans need to do to thrive in the future as well as leave a livable planet for our children.

Tyler: More and more authors, myself included, are self-publishing these days, yet self-publishing still holds a certain stigma. How do you respond to critics of self-publishing?

James: It’s a familiar old boys’ club story in my opinion. There are thousands of stories that are being published; However, getting a publisher to pick up your book can be challenging given the way traditional publishing works. Finding a publisher is not impossible; However, this may sound like a proverb to most writers. After comparing how traditional publishing and self-publishing work, I decided to self-publish because it allowed me more control over my work. Through my self-publishing journey, I actually took the time to learn my own typesetting, layout, and cover skills. Publishing my next book will be much easier now that I have the software, knowledge and skills to truly self-publish. Basically I became a publisher in addition to being a writer.

There are definite advantages to being with a large publishing company because they have the marketing department, industry connections and communications, but I believe the industry is changing as self-publishing becomes more prevalent. This is similar to Hollywood’s old studio system and the emergence of independent filmmakers and its effects on the movie business. Self-publishing is very similar to the independent film industry. There are many excellent self-published books out there and I think many authors will choose to self-publish in the future.

Tyler: Do you think the self-publishing trend will continue and eventually dominate the book market over traditional publishing houses?

James: I’m amazed at how many people come up to me and tell me they have stories they’ve always wanted to tell. I encourage them to go for it because it can happen if they have the commitment to see it through. Personally it is a very satisfying life achievement for me to release “Dance of the Heart” and the fact that it is being well received is even more rewarding.

I see self-publishing gaining market share. The biggest challenge for self-published authors is of course publicity. This is the advantage of staying with a traditional publishing house. They have the resources to get the word out. Most writers are just writers and have no idea how to promote their book. I recommend finding a professional to help get the word out, because you can write the best story ever, but if people don’t know about it, they won’t get a chance to read your work. This is a good investment, because not only will you sell some books, you may eventually find a traditional publisher who is interested in picking up your book.

Tyler: You also mentioned that you’re writing a non-fiction book about how Americans can thrive and still leave behind a habitable planet. Can you tell us a little about your past writing? Do you write both fiction and non-fiction, and what do you see as the particular disadvantages or advantages of writing each type of prose?

James: I enjoy all kinds of writing and am not afraid to jump into new genres. In addition to travel writing while in Hawaii, I wrote both fiction and non-fiction. My first audience was a group of colleagues at a bank I worked at a few years ago. Every day, I filled in for the receptionist while she went to lunch. During that hour, I wrote an installment of a suspense thriller set on the Oregon coast. I shared my story with the other assistants on the floor who eagerly awaited my new chapter. A few years later, I moved to Hawaii and sent a series of stories of my adventures to my friends on the mainland, which I called “Memos from Maui.” Living in Hawaii is kind of like living in a foreign country and I’ve had fun sharing my observations of life on a tropical island. “Memos from Maui” was well received and I knew then that I was hooked; I had something to do with writing. Both fiction and non-fiction have their own advantages and challenges, but non-fiction commentaries are easier to write. Fiction takes more thought and imagination, but where you go with it is entirely up to you. Having said that, I think a good writer is not afraid to take on new challenges. I also write poetry which I have also published.

Recently I was involved in a playwriting workshop, which was a great learning experience. Part of the workshop consisted of writing a 10-minute play directed and performed by professionals on stage. I took three chapters from “Dance of the Heart” and was able to see a part of my story played out on stage. It was an insightful process and I grew as a writer from the experience.

Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, James. Before we go, can you tell our readers where they can learn more about “Dance of the Heart” and where they can buy copies?

James: “Dance of the Heart” can be purchased online at http://www.danceoftheheart.net. It can also be ordered through any bookstore from the border to your local bookstore. Thanks, Tyler.

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